Duo meet lawmakers on strike matters

Mr. Verrone went to Washington on Wednesday, accompanied by Mr. Rosenberg, to brief key policy and legislative officials about the positions the Writers Guild and Screen Actors Guild have taken on the strike.

During a whirlwind visit on Wednesday, WGA West prexy Patric Verrone and SAG topper Alan Rosenberg met with lawmakers from California and members of influential congressional committees as well as leaders at the Federal Communications Commission to “update and inform” them on matters such as the challenges both guilds face in trying to negotiate with “seven multi-national conglomerates,” the two said.

Rosenberg said he had already planned before the scribes walked out to come to D.C. to talk, as he has before, about the effects of media consolidation on the entertainment industry. He decided to combine this trip with Verrone’s since SAG is supporting the WGA.

“We’ll be facing the exact same issues next summer,” when the SAG contract expires, Rosenberg said.

Verrone wanted officials to know about those issues, particularly as they involve “the nature of new media and how we feel it’s fair for us to be paid for those new media,” he said.

The principal message Verrone wanted to convey was that writers “stand prepared to go back to the table as soon as the companies make clear they’re willing to respond to the issues that are important to this negotiation.”

“It’s important to impress upon (Washington) that this isn’t about wealthy actors or writers getting richer,” Rosenberg added. “The average writer makes $60,000 a year, the average actor makes less. It’s a question of keeping our heads above water with residual payments.”

Verrone and Rosenberg met with Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Reps. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), John Dingell (D-Mich.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.). Dingell chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Markey is chairman of the Subcommittee on Telecommunications.

At the FCC they met with commissioners Michael Copps, Jonathan Adelstein and Robert McDowell.

Verrone said that all officials seem to understand the issues and all expressed support but none offered to take any action on the guilds’ behalf. “This visit is more about educating and informing” than seeking direct assistance, Verrone said.

However, Verrone added that, “Hopefully, having support from (Boxer) and other members of the California delegation will have some impact on the conglomerates.”

Rosenberg and Verrone characterized the guilds as being at a disadvantage in trying to negotiate with “seven multi-national conglomerates, all supposedly competitors but they all come together to negotiate. They’re picking off the unions one at a time.”

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